Big Spring & the CVB

“Big Spring”!!! What is it? It is Spring 2012 and it means a huge spring season for Rabun County tourism. I will explain more, but first I need to explain another phrase used by the Rabun County Convention & Visitors Bureau (RCCVB)…”Spring Blitz”. We use this phrase to refer to the heavy advertising we do in March and April each year. While those two months represent 17% of a calendar year, we will spend about 40% of our advertising budget during that time. This is a key time period because it is when many people are planning their vacations and it is also a great time to attract weekend and day-trippers up here during the slower spring months when we need business.

This year we have placed a co-op ad in Atlanta Social Seasons with the Dillard Tourist Association, Clayton Merchants & Business Association, Doncaster, Timpson Creek Gallery and Zeppelin’s. In addition to the ad, we will get four pages of advertorial content on Rabun County (that we write!) and our Calendar of Events. We also placed ads in Atlanta Magazine, Georgia Magazine, Southern Living and South Carolina Living Magazine.
But we are no longer just doing print media. Our social media campaign is quite rigorous. To start with, we advertise on Facebook. In fact we recently received an award of $150 in free advertising on Facebook for an advertising campaign that Teka Earnhardt, CVB administrator, ran. Check out our Facebook page, facebook.com/explorerabun. ‘Like’ us. We are now active on Twitter, @Explore Rabun. Follow us. Of course, we have also launched the Rabun County Tourism website – ExploreRabun.com. If you have a tourism based business, make sure it is on our website. It’s free! The website basic listing is free and there will be opportunities for enhanced listings and advertising in the future. Contact Teka at Teka@gamountains.com to see if your business qualifies.
In late February, the State opened their new tourism website, ExploreGeorgia.org, and, for the first time, are allowing their partners to advertise on the site. We have placed an ad on the home page of the Northeast Georgia Mountains region. That ad is a test and we will see what it does for us. The nice thing about social media and online ads is we can track results to measure the effectiveness of our spending.
Another responsibility of the Rabun County Convention & Visitors Bureau is publicity. Last month, thanks to our rugged natural beauty (Rabun County’s, not mine!) and the director’s attraction to Deliverance, we had Killing Season being filmed with John Travolta and Robert De Niro for a week. In addition to generating over $330,000 of economic benefit (including John Travolta’s purchase of a Shelby Mustang), it generated publicity for Rabun County in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Georgia Trend Magazine, Georgia Magazine, OnLocationVacations.com and The Los Angeles Times. It was neat to see a picture of Tallulah Gorge in the LA Times! Our Camera Ready program pays enormous dividends. First, we get the economic benefits from having the cast and crew living with us while the filming is taking place. Second, we get the publicity from having them here and finally, we get the publicity when the movie is released. Can you imagine the impact of having John Travolta on the “Today Show” talking about how great his stay in Rabun County was!
Okay, at the start of this column I promised to explain “Big Spring.” Just three years ago, we had one major event in the spring — Celebrate Clayton, which brings in about 6,000 to 8,000 visitors. This year there will be seven events bringing in over 45,000 visitors. That is what we mean by “Big Spring!”
After Celebrate Clayton (April 28 & 29), we are playing host to the Georgia Botanical Society’s Spring Wildflower Meeting at The Rabun County Civic Center (May 4-6). Then we have our “Super Bowl of Tourism” – Warrior Dash III (May 19 & 20). Next, we have two new events that are the result of the aggressive actions of The Dillard House to bring in more groups to their conference center. The first one of these will be the National MG Automobile Convention, which is expected to bring in about 400 MGs to our county for four nights (June 6 – 10). That same weekend we will have over 1,200 cyclists coming to Rabun County for the end of the Bicycle Ride Across Georgia (BRAG). Right after that, the Dillard House will host the Southeastern Regional Honda Gold Wing Convention (June 15 – 17). And, finally, we will finish spring out with the inaugural Chattooga River Festival (June 22-24). These are all happening at a time of year when we need business!
If you have a tourism business…GET READY! Big Spring is coming!
Pete Cleaveland
Executive Director
Rabun County Convention & Visitors Bureau